Ending Homelessness Today — The State of Homelessness
Advocacy Accomplishments in 2013 (Against the Odds)
January 06, 2014
The first session of the 113th Congress, characterized by gridlock and dysfunction, bears the unfortunate distinction of being the least productive session of Congress in modern times in terms of legislative output.
Clearly, 2013 was a challenging year, though that did not keep homeless advocates across the country from drawing attention to the need for increased federal funding for vital homeless assistance programs in their communities. As we begin the New Year, we would like to take this chance to reflect back on many of the accomplishments of our advocates in 2013, which are particularly impressive in light of the unique challenges they faced.
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Are You Ending Chronic Homelessness in Your Community?
June 11, 2013
From 2011 to 2012, chronic homelessness decreased 7 percent. In fact, chronic homelessness has been decreasing for several years. From 2007 to 2012, chronic homelessness in the U.S. has decreased 19 percent from 123,833 people to 99,894 people.
Is your state keeping up with that pace? Some communities are! According to the Alliance's State of Homelessness in America 2013, chronic homelessness decreased in 29 states and the District of Columbia from 2011 to 2012. Many states even saw large double-digit decreases, including Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Maryland.
Unfortunately the news is not all good. While chronic homelessness is going down, the rate of decrease is not fast enough to achieve the U.S. government’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2015.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 3
April 23, 2013
All this month, we’ve been doing weekly posts about our recently released report The State of Homelessness in America 2013. This week we’ll be taking a look at Chapter 3 of the report. Chapter 3 includes an examination of demographic and household factors among groups that are particularly at risk of homelessness: poor households living doubled up, poor single individuals, poor families headed by a single adult, and poor adults accessing safety net benefits.
“Doubling-up” refers to when a family or individual is living in another family member or friend’s house for economic reasons. It is the most often cited previous living situation for individuals and families entering the homelessness system. Nationally, the number of doubled up poor households increased by almost 10 percent. This increase is part of a trend over the last several years, increasing from 4.6 million in 2007 to 7.4 million in 2011.
Additionally, the majority of the homeless population is made up of single unaccompanied adults, and the majority of homeless families are headed by a single adult—usually female. The populations of poor individuals and poor families headed by a single person both increased and, like “doubled up” households, the size of these at-risk populations have been steadily growing over the last 5 years.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 2
April 16, 2013
This month we released The State of Homelessness in America 2013. Each week in April we will be providing a short summary of each chapter of the report through our blog. Last week, we covered Chapter 1 which examined trends in homelessness from 2011 to 2012.
Last week, we covered Chapter 1 which examined trends in homelessness from 2011 to 2012. What we found were mixed results: chronic and veteran homelessness decreased significantly, while family homelessness increased slightly. These mixed findings are most likely related to changes in policy, such as investment in permanent supportive housing and veteran specific programs, as well as the economic and housing environments in which homelessness occurs.
We know that, on its most basic level, homelessness is caused by an individual or family being unable to afford housing. Chapter 2 examined both economic and housing factors that impact the ability of a household to afford housing: unemployment, poverty, median income, fair market rent, and vacancy rate were all examined.
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The State of Homelessness in America 2013: Chapter 1
April 12, 2013
This has been a busy week at the Alliance. The Homelessness Research Institute released The State of Homelessness in America 2013. This is the third installment in a series of reports that examines trends in homelessness and the economic and housing context in which those trends occur.
Today we are going to take a quick look at Chapter 1, which examines national and state level trends in homelessness. The data presented in Chapter 1 comes from Point-In-Time estimates for January 2011 and January 2012 reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development by communities across the U.S.
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We’re Screening a Movie at our DC Conference
April 04, 2013
This is turning out to be quite a busy week at the Alliance. We’re currently preparing for the release of our State of Homelessness 2013 report this Tuesday, April 9, which will involve a press conference that morning and webinar that afternoon for advocates and stakeholders. You should register, if you’d like to hear about the data in the report as well as ways to act on the information through media engagement and advocacy efforts.
But we’re also putting together our next National Conference on Ending Homelessness. It’s happening on Monday July 22 through Wednesday July 24 at The Renaissance Washington DC Hotel in Washington, DC. Already, we’re at work on roughly 80 workshops covering veteran homelessness, youth homelessness, chronic homelessness, homelessness advocacy, Continuums of Care, rapid re-housing, and more.
This February, we had to close registration early for our Family and Youth conference because so many people registered for it so quickly, and we had to set up a wait-list for those who weren’t able to register in time. Obviously, we’re pleased with the huge response, and we want everyone who wants to attend to be able to, but we can only accommodate so many people.
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Top 3 Alliance Blog posts of 2012: Number 2
December 27, 2012
As the end of 2012 approaches, we'd like to share with you three of our most read blog posts of the year. This post, number 2 of the Alliance's Top 3, was originally published June 14, 2012. For the Alliance's latest Analysis of the Fiscal Cliff deal, see our recent blog post, "How the Fiscal Cliff Deal Will Impact Homelessness."
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A Closer Look at Homelessness in the National Capital Region: A Metropolitan Perspective
April 16, 2012
Renowned urban thinker Anthony Downs wrote: “No jurisdiction is an island. Every suburb is linked to its central city and to other suburbs.” But intra-regional social and economic dynamics can sometimes make it appear as though there are actual oceans separating jurisdictional boundaries. The intra-regional social dynamic of homelessness is no exception.
Are there actually homelessness disparities within a region? If so, how large? I examine these questions in this article using the specific case of the national capital region.
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Data, Oh How I’ve Overlooked You! Data you may have missed in The State of Homelessness 2012
February 28, 2012
Hello fellow homeless advocates, policy wonks, and friends of data! It’s been just over a month since the Alliance released The State of Homelessness in America 2012 and in that time the report has been picked up by numerous national and local media sources.
The report’s one-sentence take-away—that homelessness has decreased by one percent nationally from 2009 to 2011 and that this decrease is in large part explained by HPRP, a program funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—has been the main story line in many of the media articles.
While the national decrease and the reason behind the decrease in homelessness are in the headlines for a reason, I thought it’d be useful to spend some time pointing out some of the data nuggets that you may have overlooked when you paged through the report last month. (And if you haven’t taken a look at the report yet, knock yourself out.)
Today’s data nugget: Homelessness in Metro Areas.
Homelessness in America is disproportionately found at higher rates in metropolitan areas of the country. Nearly 70 percent of the homeless population lives in the 100 largest metro areas, while a comparatively smaller percentage of the general population lives in these areas (65 percent). In Appendix One of the report, overall homeless population data are provided for the 100 largest metropolitan areas for the year 2011. In addition to a look at how... Read More »
Poor, very poor people and families in need of concern
February 02, 2012
It’s been all over the news.
A few days ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that he wasn’t concerned about the very poor because we have a social safety net – and, when prodded, he said he would mend the safety net if necessary.
The candidate has been hounded by news outlets since the misstep. The Daily Beast, the Washington Post, and the TakeAway have all pointed out that the Romney should, in fact, show concern for the [growing] very poor population in America. The New York Times even ran an editorial on “the darkening tone of the primaries,” specifically citing this gaffe.
Needless to say, we here at the Alliance are very concerned about the very poor.
As has been widely reported, a full 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line (which is $18,530 for a family of three) and 6.7 percent of Americans live in deep poverty (defined as half the poverty line.) Half of all Americans are either poor or low-income, living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
While the last few years have, as the candidate notes, been hard for middle-class Americans, it has been a troublesome time for low-income and poor Americans as well. Recessionary times can be especially difficult for those households with little to no financial resources who suffer the same challenges as middle-income Americans including unemployment and housing crises. Unlike middle-income Americans, however, low-income and poor Americans often do not hav... Read More »
What Will We Do About Affordable Rental Housing?
April 27, 2011
Today's guest post comes to us from Pete Witte, research associate at the Alliance.
I wasn’t surprised while reading the recent report, America’s Rental Housing: Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities, by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University. Among other things, the paper points out that there is a substantial—and growing—gap between the number of very low-income renters and available affordable rental units. But though the report is unsurprising, it’s disconcerting nonetheless.
In the State of Homelessness, we found that from 2008 to 2009, the number of poor, severely housing cost burdened renter households increased by 9 percent to nearly 5.9 million households nationally (severe housing cost burden = households paying 50 percent of their monthly income or more on rent). Families are finding it difficult to afford rents and the recent JCHS paper points out that, in part, rents are rising due to a lack of supply and increasing demand.
These factors reveal that there are more and more people at increased risk of homelessness When households pay such a great majority of their monthly income on rent (50 percent or more, in the case of severely housing cost burdened households), they have little money left over for other expenses, including transportation, healthcare, education, and food. The scarcity of resources means that that any unforeseen financial hurdle – a large bill, car breakdown, hospitalization – could jeopardize the household’s housing situation.
The JCHS paper also predicts that “Given the long lead times n... Read More »
HUD Releases 2010 PIT Counts
April 25, 2011
Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released national data showing that the number of homeless people was essentially unchanged from 2009 to 2010.
The number, based on counts conducted by localities and states across the nation in January 2010 (called point-in-time counts), increased one percent, rising from 643,067 to 649,879. There was a three percent increase in the number of homeless people who were unsheltered and a 1.5 percent increase among families experiencing homelessness. Chronic homelessness declined by 1 percent, continuing a downward trend begun in 2005.
The 2010 PIT counts were the first to reflect the impact of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), the $1.5 billion stimulus-funded program aimed at curbing homelessness resulting from the recession. Housing inventory data released in conjunction with the PIT counts showed that, at the time of the 2010 PIT counts, the stimulus program was funding 19,842 homeless assistance beds.
In 2009, the Alliance projected that without effective intervention, homelessness would increase dramatically as a result of the recession. These numbers show that our investment in homelessness prevention and housing-based strategies averted what could have been an alarming increase in the number of Americans experiencing homelessness, according the to Alliance.
Still, the recessions’ full impact on homelessness has yet to be seen. In 2010 the Alliance report The State of Homelessness in America noted that certain key economic factors associated with homelessness were on the rise. These included the number of poor households doubling up, unemployment, and severe housing c... Read More »
NLIHC: Dark Before the Storm
April 20, 2011
In The State of Homelessness report, Alliance research staff examined some of the economic indicators of homelessness, including severe housing cost burden, real income, unemployment, and foreclosure.
A report authored by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) – called Dark Before the Storm echoes some of the findings of The State of Homelessness report, specifically as it pertains to severe housing cost burden.
Using the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, made available by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), researchers at the NLIHC examine housing affordability for low-income (LI), very low-income (VLI) and extremely low-income (ELI) renters. What they find is that, even before the recession began, these low income populations were experiencing a pronounced shortage of affordable housing only exacerbated by the recession.
Some of the report’s key findings:
63 percent of ELI renters and 28 percent of VLI renters paid more than half their monthly income on rent and utilities (paying more than half of monthly income on rent is characterized as “severe housing cost burden”).
In ten states, 65 percent or more of ELI renters experienced severe housing cost burden.
The West was the most difficult region for ELI renters to find affordable housing; 10 of the 13 states in the West had fewer than 35 affordable and available units for every 100 ELI renter households.
The report also suggests that housing affordability problems climbed the income ladder in the years before the recession, affecting VLI and low-income households at high... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: The Components of Homelessness
March 04, 2011
This week the news media has focused on the essentials of our field: housing, data, populations, and public policy.
Let’s start right in the District. In her column, Michelle Singletary cited our own report to discuss people spending more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent - what is called a "severe housing cost burden" - a situation that can put people at risk of homelessness.
From Tiffin, OH, the Advertiser-Tribune discussed a sticky situation concerning data collection, showing that data collection methodology should be examined as it affects count accuracy. Perhaps a dry topic for a news article, but methodology is a central component of learning about homelessness, especially at the community level.
Then there was a flurry of reports about different populations experiencing homelessness.
Both the Sacramento Bee and CNN covered veteran homelessness. The Bee zoomed in the challenges specific to women returning from combat and CNN took their turn examining the potential ramifications of federal budget cuts to vulnerable veterans (stay tuned). The Medill News Service also took a crack at state budgets and the potential impact reductions will have on homeless youth. (They’re projecting pronounced increases). And New America Media traveled to the other end of the spectrum writing about elderly people living in poverty, at risk of homelessness, while raising their own grandchildren. (Which comes as no surprise.)
Predictably, there were scant few articles about solutions but there does seem to be good... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: State of Homelessness, Secretary Donovan, and HUD funding
January 21, 2011
This week, we kept seeing more clips about our newest report, The State of Homelessness in America! We’re so excited to see continued interest in the report and – as you may have seen – we’re going to continue to write about the report on this blog to explicate our findings, definitions, and other nerdy bits (latest installment: a post about data from Pete) so stay tuned!
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan also made the news this week with an opinion piece about a national effort to end homelessness. Placed just in time to coincide with impending community point-in-time counts, the secretary encourages communities to do their best to pursue accurate data, “But more collaboration alone won't restore confidence in government; we also need to produce results. And producing results requires smarter decisions based on sound data.” (What’s a point-in-time count? Glad you asked.)
HUD made news again this week when they renewed funding for homeless assistance programs, spreading $1.4 billion nationwide to help organizations providing services for people experiencing homelessness. Local stories (like this one) outlined specific amounts for their particular communities and many noted the pervasive need for such funding to provide assistance to their economically vulnerable friends and neighbors.
And in other news – today, the Alliance staff is off-campus thinking up ways to do our work better. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, don’t hesitate to comment, Tweet, of leave us a note on our Fac... Read More »